Although it's rife with death and despond, The Great Night is Adrian's most upbeat novel. (That's to say, when I finished it, I did not break into great, gasping sobs, dazed at the horror and beauty of life, as I did when I finished The Children's Hospital.) And though the book is in no way inconsequential, it's the lightest entry in a gloomy œuvre. This lightness — augmented by airtight, propulsive plotting and a relative brevity — indicates a step forward for Adrian. Someday soon, he might write an even shorter, even more devastating novel. What on earth will we do if he gets happy?

THE GREAT NIGHT by Chris Adrian | Farrar, Straus and Giroux | 304 PAGES | $26

CHRIS ADRIAN | Harvard Book Store, 1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge | May 16 @ 7pm | 617.661.1515

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